Sunday, November 25, 2018

Intelligent design and the bible...

Joh 5:39-40 NET  "You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me,  (40)  but you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life."

If you were to read all of the posts on this blog, you would indeed find that the preponderance of evidence establishes the fact that the bible/scripture is the redemptive narrative. Further, its main function is the story of redemption. It is not a law book. It is not a manual for correct living. It is not a science book. Rather, it is a love story that explains God's love for humanity and all that He created.

I have never been comfortable believing that all of life on this planet just evolved. Certainly, there is an element of evolution within all living things but not to the degree that all life evolved from one primordial cell. But by the same token, I am not comfortable with the six day creation. I believe it to be a metaphor or an allegory. For this reason, I think that the theory of ID or intelligent design makes a lot of sense to me.

I do not have a scientific mind or a scientific bent. I am intuitive. I think it could be best described as a mystic. I would like to use the definition from the Oxford Dictionary; "a person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect."  I think that the second clause in this defining sentence best describes how I see myself as a mystic. I want to focus on the idea of one who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect. This supports my sentiment in the above paragraph.

When one looks up Intelligent Design (ID,) one soon finds that there is a fierce debate going on among those who claim to be ID scientists and Darwinists. It seems that the Darwinists try to lump ID scientists with creationists. They do it to discount the science of ID, but I have read enough to see that the Darwinists are as Shakespeare once wrote, "protesting" a tad too much. ID scientists do not demand that one follow the explanation of the Bible. They merely claim to prove what to me is obvious; that is, that the theory of irreducible complexity flies in the face of the entire biological world evolving from one primordial cell. I don't suggest that I understand it in the least, but I have given enough key words so that you can look it up for yourself. Rather, the mystic in me tells me that it is correct.

Those evangelicals that demand a literal reading of Genesis are completely wrong in my view. This is not a plea for creationism over evolution. I do KNOW however that the bible does not lose its inspirational authority if the first part of Genesis is allegorical. In fact, it does not lose its inspirational authority if the story of Adam and Eve is allegorical. Thinking that it does merely shows a limitation of understanding and provides the ammunition to Darwinists to show that creationism is anti-intellectual.

By the same token, it has never made sense to me that "beings" as complex as those living on this earth, especially humans, but the entire animal kingdom included as well just evolved from cosmic accidents. Rather, for me it shows a highly complex, and very orderly existence that demands a creative force, a designer if you will allow the term. I believe that force is the God of the universe, and that in fact, Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the incarnation of God in human flesh to bring redemption by proving that we are eternal beings, and that there is life and existence beyond this earthly dimension.

When one takes a wooden literal interpretation of all scripture one creates a false image of God's purpose for humanity. Ephesians chapter one establishes that God's purpose in creation, before the foundation of the world, which is before creation, was to bring about the praise of his glorious grace. The gospel explains that God reconciled humanity to himself for this very purpose. I can assure you that to keep the intent of the scripture, as stated by Jesus, recorded in the above scripture passage from John, it is not necessary to view the bible as a science book, or a rule book. It is in fact a book that explains the gospel of Jesus Christ and the reconciliation bought by his life, death, and resurrection.

We will be exploring more about the essence of Jesus earthly ministry and what God had clearly intended when he sent Jesus to earth. It will be liberating and it will eliminate so much of the schizophrenic teaching that is replete in orthodox Christian doctrine. Most especially that of the evangelical variety of Christianity.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The guarantee of the Holy Spirit is our inheritance.

Eph 1:13-14 AMP  "In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and [as a result] believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God]. [Joh_7:39; Act_2:33]  (14)  The Spirit is the guarantee [the first installment, the pledge, a foretaste] of our inheritance until the redemption of God's own [purchased] possession [His believers], to the praise of His glory."

Many times in this blog, I have forcefully and unapologetically proved that believing the gospel is our obedience. It is not easy to do as those who cry "easy believism" would like to have accepted. They are way off the path, and have missed the true message of the gospel. God wants us to believe that he is a loving Father that has redeemed us and wants us to be at peace with Him. In fact, I have stated often that peace with God, based on justification by faith, is the catalyst for transformation, It gives us the transformative power of love. God's love for us, promotes deep and abiding real love for Him. The gospel of grace is the factor that allows us to obey the first and greatest commandment. It is to love the Lord God with all our heart, with all our might, and with our whole being. The truth of the gospel message is the only thing that can bring about real love for God free from fear.

It is the Holy Spirit that allows us to believe the gospel and thereby love God wholeheartedly. This is the reason that the Holy Spirit is the seal, the guarantee, the pledge, the foretaste of our inheritance. The fact is that once one hears the gospel of grace, believes it with the aid of the Holy Spirit, then one has the Holy Spirit as a constant companion eternally. That's right. You cannot lose or alienate the Holy Spirit. While you may grieve it, you cannot lose it. The Holy Spirit is the comforter, the teacher, the advocate, the paraclete.

Look at what Jesus tells his immediate followers about the Holy Spirit. Joh 16:7 NET  "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you." and  Joh 16:13 NET  "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come." Yes, the Holy Spirit is a constant companion. After his baptism, the Holy Spirit was Jesus constant companion as he walked on the earth in the flesh. He always believed the Holy Spirit as it was his link to the mind of the Father and likewise, the Holy Spirit is our link to the mind of Christ. Paul told the Philippians to let the mind of Christ be in them. Of course, the way to accomplish that is to listen to the Holy Spirit.

So then, how can you know that you are listening to the Holy Spirit? The answer is simple, very simple indeed. The Holy Spirit will always speak about the things that promote the fruit of the Spirit. Of course that is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness and self-control. The Holy Spirit will promote these within the individual. The Holy Spirit will not condemn. The Holy Spirit will not scold. The Holy Spirit will not punish. After all the Holy Spirit is also called the comforter.

Once again, I like the way the NET Bible interprets this passage. Joh 16:8-11 NET  "And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment –  (9)  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;  (10)  concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer;  (11)  and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned." So many people erroneously say that the Holy Spirit convicted them of this or that. They are absolutely wrong because they have wrongly understood what Jesus was saying. Jesus was speaking of the religious world of Judaism when he used the term world. That will take an entire blog post to prove that but for now, just accept it as I am completely confident that the evangelical definition of the world is completely erroneous.

He is going to prove the religious authorities wrong about their understanding and practice of sin, righteousness and judgment. The author of Hebrews equates sin and unbelief as interchangeable throughout his letter. Sin is unbelief as it was in the garden. Now, the ultimate sin is not believing that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Likewise, the religious authorities were wrong about righteousness. Humanity was righteous because God had declared them righteous (Gen 1:31.) And they were wrong in their judgment because the ruler of this world, Satan had been judged (Rev 12:10-12.) I suggest that you read that passage in the NET Bible. When God raised Jesus from the dead, Satan was judged at that very moment. He thought that through the first Adam he could bring death and separation between God and humanity, but alas, the LAST ADAM, put him to open shame when he rose victorious over death.

That dear friend is the "truth" that the Holy Spirit will convince us of if we but open our hearts, minds, ears and eyes.

Monday, October 29, 2018

In search of the Kingdom of God; Part 3... righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Rom 14:17 NET  For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

It is important to understand the context of Romans Chapter 14. I think it can best be explained by this passage; Rom 14:4-5  "Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  (5)  One person regards one day holier than other days, and another regards them all alike. Each must be fully convinced in his own mind." Paul is using Romans 14 to explain that religious practice is not a good indicator to judge one another. So when he says in verse 17 that the kingdom of God is NOT food and drink, I think it is safe to assume that he has a broader intent than food and drink. He is speaking of outward religious practices in general. He is not being critical of those who observe or perform outward religious practices. Rather, he is stating that they are not a proper standard for judging and judgment.

What does Paul say the kingdom of God does consist of? It is interesting that he states RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, and JOY in the Holy Spirit. What does that mean exactly? Well, here is a clue. Rom 5:1  Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Yes, imputed righteousness, being declared righteous by the faith of Jesus brings peace with God, and that in turn brings Joy. Those are the foundationally important elements in the kingdom of God. Without them, the kingdom of God will not be established. It is also important to notice the order... righteousness -> peace -> joy. If one is not resting completely in the gospel, and by gospel, I mean the finished work of Jesus Christ, there can be no peace.  We are declared righteousness based on the faith/faithfulness of Jesus. This is the most important thing to remember. God was in Christ, reconciling himself to the world, not counting sin. Further, he made Jesus, the one who did not even know sin to be made sin for humanity so that in turn humanity could be made the righteousness of God in Christ. This alone is the source of the peace. Therefore, the righteousness mentioned in Romans 14:17 is the righteousness of God. There really is no other righteousness.

There can be no real joy when there is constant fear. Religious practice is fear based. So much of current evangelical doctrine is based on being controlled by fear. Fear of not pleasing God; Fear of not really being saved; fear of being out of fellowship, and on and on. As the apostle John wrote, fear has torment, or more correctly, fear is torment. Understanding kingdom righteousness eliminates fear. Kingdom righteousness was bought and paid for by Jesus Christ. It is the righteousness that comes from his perfect faithfulness. He only did what the Father told him to do. He did that by faith and was faithful to the mission that he was sent to complete. He was willing to die... believing the Father... showing that death was not final. He was demonstrating that there is more, that there is eternal life.

He set the example of faithfulness and His Spirit enables us to apprehend this fact via the gospel message. Believing the gospel is the source of kingdom righteousness that leads to peace and ultimately joy.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

In search of the kingdom... Part 2 the who, when, where and how of the kingdom

Luk 17:20-21  "Now at one point the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, so he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed,  (21)  nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

There are some important observations to be made about the Pharisees request and Jesus' answer. It is note worthy that Jesus did not say that this time the kingdom is not coming with signs and observation, and that will be at a future time. No, to the Pharisees, those trained in the Law of Moses, those expecting the millennial kingdom, those who at that time were ensconced in a fervor awaiting the Messiah and the messianic kingdom, he did not say that the kingdom would eventually come in a different way that could be easily observed. He rather answered that the kingdom was already in their midst. It was already among them. How so? Well the kingdom was everywhere the King was. Jesus was the King in their midst.

How then is it in our midst nowadays? The answer is simple. It is everywhere the King is. How then is the King among us? It is by the Spirit of Messiah, the Holy Spirit, the comforter, the teacher, the Spirit of God. Jesus offers clarity in this passage. Joh 18:36  Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” This was in answer to a question put forth by Pilate in his inquisition. Pilate asked him straight out if he was King of the Jews. Jesus made it clear to Pilate that the kingdom was not a kingdom with a parcel of land in the physical realm but rather a spiritual kingdom from a different reality/dimension.

Paul was the one who was charged with explaining the kingdom gospel to the Gentiles. This was after the resurrection, and after he had taken the gospel to the Jews first. When many of the Jews rejected the gospel he then was sent to the Gentiles as well. It is to the Gentiles in Galatia that Paul explains the nature of the kingdom and its capital. It is necessary to include a longer passage to get the message across. This is the Jerusalem that Jesus reigns in and is King. Gal 4:21-31  Tell me, you who want to be under the law, do you not understand the law?  (22)  For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.  (23)  But one, the son by the slave woman, was born by natural descent, while the other, the son by the free woman, was born through the promise.  (24)  These things may be treated as an allegory, for these women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar.  (25)  Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.  (26)  But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.  (27)  For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren woman who does not bear children; break forth and shout, you who have no birth pains, because the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than those of the woman who has a husband.”  (28)  But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac.  (29)  But just as at that time the one born by natural descent persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so it is now.  (30)  But what does the scripture say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the son” of the free woman.  (31)  Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman. This is a kingdom that is not of the physical world but is present in the world. He even quotes Isaiah 54:1 as a proof text for the reality that the kingdom is a spiritual kingdom.

The above passage speaks of the New Jerusalem, the one that the author of Revelation saw coming down out of the sky. Rev 3:12  The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God (the new Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from my God), and my new name as well. It is obvious that Paul and John are referring to the same spiritual Jerusalem. It only makes sense that God would in fact redeem ALL of humanity. I am not anti-sematic or disparaging the Jews in any way. Jesus himself was a Jew. That fact is that God's kingdom is broader than any had anticipated. It is a spiritual kingdom in which all of humanity has been reconciled. God was in Christ, reconciling the WORLD to himself (2Cor 5.)

We then apprehend the kingdom by having faith in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. The kingdom is now, the New Jerusalem is now! The question becomes, will you believe it? Will you walk in the reality of it?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

In search of the kingdom... Part 1 kingdom righteousness

This will begin a series of posts that are entitled in search of the kingdom. The kingdom that is being searched for is the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. I have run into individuals that taught that there was a difference between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God but that is pure nonsense. In the gospel of Matthew Jesus is recorded as saying kingdom of heaven instead of the kingdom of God. The best theory that I have heard is that since Matthew was a primarily Jewish gospel, written to a strictly Jewish audience, and the fact that the Jews did not like using the name God for fear that it was too holy to utter, Jesus used heaven to alleviate that problem knowing that all knew that when he spoke of the kingdom of heaven he was in fact referring to the kingdom of God.

Mat 5:20  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven!

What possible righteousness could go beyond, exceed, the righteousness of the experts in the law and the Pharisees? We get a clue from Paul's letter to the Philippians. The experts in the law were the scribes or the rabbis'.  Of course the Pharisees were a sect of Jews that strictly adhered to the law. So, it is safe to say that Jesus was referring to the righteousness that comes from observing the Law. However, look and read this... Php 3:6  In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless. Paul states that as a scribe and Pharisee, he was blameless in the righteousness that is stipulated in the law. What possible righteousness could exceed or go beyond that you ask? The answer of course is the righteousness of God. Here is how Paul explained it, again in Philippians. Php 3:9  "and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness."

The righteousness that Jesus was alluding to was his righteousness that would only be bestowed on humanity after he had faithfully finished the work he came to do which was to believe God unto death and restore a right relationship with humanity as the "last Adam." Did I tell you that I have grown to love the NET bible? I did in an earlier post about the faith of, or faithfulness of Christ, but I must tell you again. I love the fact that my righteousness comes from Christ's faithfulness! Isn't that an awesome concept? It does not come from my adherence to the Law. It comes solely from Christ's faithfulness who was the representative human, or the last Adam. Again, as stated before in the blog posts on the faith of Christ, we apprehend this righteousness of Christ based on our faith that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

So then, here is an important fact about what the kingdom of God really is. First and foremost, it is established on the faithfulness/faith of Christ Jesus. You are really misled when you think that it is based on your faith in Christ. You merely apprehend the benefit that Christ provides by your faith in Him. Did I say it is already done? Did you shout when you heard? It is easy to see from this that current evangelical doctrine is off the mark when it comes to this most important part of what the kingdom is.

The kingdom is a place where people completely rest in the faithfulness of Christ Jesus.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Justified by the faith OF Christ and not faith IN Christ; Part 4

Gal 2:16 NET "yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified."

Heb 11:6 NET  "Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."

Think about the incarnation of God in Christ. Having been born into the world similar to all of humanity, he was born with no recollection that he was from God, or at least, if babies are born with that understanding they soon lose it, and do not ever communicate it or remember it beyond the time that language and thinking is formed. While the gospels explain that Jesus was bright and above average as a youngster (Luke 2:39-52) He did not receive the Spirit until his baptism. It is important to understand the humanity of Jesus to understand his mission. The Holy Spirit was the way in which the Father spoke to Jesus. The Holy Spirit enabled Jesus the human incarnation of God to perform the miracles, and be clairsentient, clairvoyant, claircognizant and clairaudient.

This is where Jesus' perfect faith came into play. It is the way in which he was the representative human that would completely and absolutely please God. In fact, the scripture records the Father saying "this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." When you examine that proclamation of God in light of Hebrews 11:6 it is easy to understand what Paul meant when he said that we were justified by the faithfulness/faith of Christ. First it is only faith that pleases God, and secondly, God says my beloved Son in whom I am WELL PLEASED! If faith is the only thing that pleases God, then it follows that if He was well pleased it would be by perfect faith, and the perfect faith is the faith/faithfulness of Jesus.

And, the scripture tells us that. John 8:28-29 NET  "Then Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak just what the Father taught me.  (29)  And the one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do those things that please him.” When you read the above passage from John chapter eight it should become crystal clear that Jesus had perfect faith, and that it was his perfect faith that was his perfect obedience. First, he did NOTHING on his own initiative but only what the Father taught him, and secondly, he ALWAYS, let me emphasize this, ALWAYS does/did the things that pleased the Father. This means that he always operated out of faith in what the Father was telling him, and thus had perfect faith.

Paul goes on to state that faith = obedience. Rom 1:5 NET  "Through him we have received grace and our apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name." Jesus obedience was his perfect faith in what the Father told him, even unto death on the cross, and our obedience is believing what God did in the incarnation of Christ. It was the Holy Spirit, first given to Christ at his baptism, that enabled perfect faith for Christ, and it is Christ's faith that has enabled us to receive the same Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to apprehend the faith of Christ. Therefore, our obedience is to believe the gospel no matter what.

That means we must believe the gospel no matter what we see or do. God wants us to believe that He reconciled the world through Christ, that he is not counting sin, and that he has declared us to be the very righteousness of God based on Christ's faith. This is a tall order, and is a long ways from easy believism, a term devised by those truly ignorant of the true, pure gospel. Believing the gospel is anything but easy, and it was certainly not easy for Jesus to be the forerunner of such faith.

Links to the previous posts in this series.  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Justified by the faith OF Christ and not faith IN Christ; Part 3

Gal 2:16 NET Translation "yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified."

This is the third post in a series, and while I am not certain how many more posts will follow, I am certain that this subject is a most important concept in the message and mission of Jesus Christ, (Jeshua Hamashiach.) I include the Jewish name for Jesus to assure all that I am referring to the Jewish Messiah, the Saviour of the World.

For many years I have had to switch between translations of the bible. The reason for this was that some render a passage differently than I believe to be faithful to the original language. This has been especially true for the New Testament (the first century Greek Scriptures.) I believe I have found one that will allow me to switch no longer. It is the NET (New English Translation.) I have not read it completely or thoroughly at this point but in looking at the passages that I have had concerns about in the past it certainly passes muster.

In the above rendering of Galatians 2:16 the translators have rendered the faith of Christ as the faithfulness of Christ which I actually think is more accurate and it directly relates to Christ's faith. If one renders Gal 2:16 faith IN Christ Jesus then it speaks of something we do. If on the other hand, it is rendered the faithfulness or faith OF Christ Jesus, it is then something that God does through and in Christ. Paul states in 2Cor 5 that God was IN Christ reconciling the world to Himself and this certainly is in agreement with justification coming through the faithfulness OF Jesus Christ.

Further, Romans chapter five falls into line with the concept of the faithfulness of Christ. Rom 5:18 NET  "Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people." Adams unfaithfulness resulted in death and condemnation, and Jesus Christ's faithfulness resulted in life and justification. In both cases the first and last Adam, the faithfulness or unfaithfulness of the one ended up affecting the many or all.

This is why John's gospel becomes key in this. Especially in chapters 7-17 one finds details of the faith/faithfulness of Jesus Christ. In reading this passage it becomes obvious that Jesus faithfulness/faith was indeed perfect, which in turn, was a perfect offering to God making Jesus the perfect sacrifice. Now understand this. It was not a sacrifice to appease God, but rather, a sacrifice to appease the conscience of humanity. This is why the Christus Victor atonement view is so important. Jesus Christ's faithfulness/faith was victorious over Satan's attempt to  destroy humanity with Adam's unfaithfulness/faithlessness.

In fact, the writings of Paul and the gospel of John unite to show a consolidated view of God's actions in redemption and salvation. In this view it is God who initiates and God who completes redemption. Humanity has nothing to do with it except to apprehend it by faith. Yes, this shows radical grace, and it is in fact this radical grace that transformed the world in the first century, Acts 17:6. It was this concept that turned the world upside down.

As I have stated in the past two posts in this series, make of it what you will, as for me and my house we will believe the gospel!

Links to the other two posts in this series...    Part 1  Part 2

Intelligent design and the bible...

Joh 5:39-40 NET  "You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptur...